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Investor’s HOTLINE

a service of Bradley Enterprises, LLC, 10616 Beaver Dam Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21030
IH0801
January 2008
Exclusive sound-wealth wisdom from the world’s leading financial experts

Forenotes from January Guests


JOE BRADLEY 1. Mark Sellers of Sellers Capital, LLC returns to update some of his
previous recommendations and offer his insight on what makes a great
RETIREMENT ANNOUNCEMENT investor.
1. It’s been 32 years since Joe began Investor’s 2. The net annualized performance of the Sellers Capital Fund, his
HOTLINE, and he will turn 65 in April; it’s long/short equity hedge fund, from inception in August 2003 through
time for him to welcome a new chapter in Sept. 2007 was 34%, and 45% from Jan. through Nov. 7, 2007.
his life.
3. Mark Skousen introduces his newest bestseller, Investing In One
2. The final issue of Investor’s HOTLINE will Lesson and highlights its key points about the differences between Wall
be the April 2008 issue, releasing on March 28, 2008. Street and Main Street and how to apply them for investment success.
3. Active members at that time will receive these additional mate- 4. According to Eagle Publishing, Skousen’s high-yield recommenda-
rials along with the last monthly issue: (1) a full-length, farewell tions scored an average of 17.54% in 2004, 2% in 2005 and 22.71%
interview of Joe in which he shares his parting observations and in 2006; most of his recommendations from July 2007 have shown
(2) a searchable archive of all issue summaries, 2002–2008, on excellent performance to date.
CD-ROM.
5. Release date is Friday, December 21; the interviews were completed
4. Joe has interviewed more than a thousand financial experts; many the week previous.
of them, like many IH members, have become friends; he will miss
doing the interviews and the personal communications but not the Online Videos to Enjoy
deadlines and other details of running the business. 1. Adrian Day suggests two enlightening videos; one is the Capitol Hill
5. He expects to have an active retirement—with a little more interrogation of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke by Congressman Ron
adventure than other phases of his life; immediate plans are to Paul on the bubbles and bailouts that are wrecking the value of the
smell the roses, do more traveling and spend more time with fam- dollar—http://bullnotbull.com/bull/node/58?ref=patrick.net.
ily and friends. 2. The second reviews Paul’s principled, anti-big-government stance;
6. He will still be investing and coordinating his own portfolio of in- one must concede his consistency regardless of agreement with his
vestment managers and will stay plugged into his guru contacts. positions— www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG2PUZoukfA.

7. Joe invites members to stay in touch—with investment questions, 3. A third video recommended by financial analyst Garret Jones is
to exchange opinions or just to say hello. an hilarious explanation of the subprime fiasco; the skit has sur-
prising clarity except for throwing primary blame on hedge funds,
8. Enclosed with this issue, is a notice outlining the closure details which, as explained by IH guests, were minor players compared to
that apply to you; if your current membership expires before April, financial institutions, including the big banks—www.youtube.com/
be sure to renew for the remaining months and Joe’s Investor’s watch?v=SJ_qK4g6ntM.
HOTLINE curtain call.

MARK SELLERS 3. Being obsessive about investing—i.e., devoting long hours and think-
ing about it all the time—is another requirement.
Sellers Capital, LLC
161 North Clark, Suite 4700 4. Great investors scrutinize what they have done wrong and try not to
repeat mistakes more than a few times—it is very difficult to learn on
Chicago, IL 60647 the first try; avoiding the big mistakes generally leads to success.
Tel: 312-523-2160 Fax: 312-523-2166
Email: msellers@sellerscapital.com Investing with Conviction
Web: www.sellerscapital.com 1. Conviction leads to not selling in panic and also affects the size of
positions one takes; limiting the size of bets to a few percent amounts
Traits of Great Investors to throwing numerous darts.
1. What distinguishes great investors, like great CEOs, is the ability to 2. The Kelly formula developed by a mathematician in the 1950s indi-
think differently; only about 2% qualify by thinking outside the box. cates that a 2% position equates to a belief in a 51% chance of winning
vs. a 49% chance of losing.
2. Playing like everybody else allows one to keep up but not to get ahead;
great investors tend to be contrarians—they can distinguish when it is 3. Sellers believes that serious investors should take big bets (8%–10%)
okay and not okay to go along with the crowd. or no position at all; average investors with limited time to commit to


the process should hold a portfolio of 15–25 stocks for diversity. in the USD are compelling, so investors might want to commit more
money outside the US than inside—but be careful about bubbles, es-
4. With a mutual fund or hedge fund, investors are buying an expert to pecially in China.
manage their money; chances are investors cannot get to know fund
managers well enough to commit 25% into one fund—a reasonable Favorite Picks
allocation is 5%–7% into 10–15 different funds.
1. Sellers has switched preference from Home Depot to Lowe’s; Lowe’s
The Investment Thought Process has come down to near the price of Home Depot, but the company has
more growth opportunity and a better, more focused management team;
1. Great investors use both the logical and intuitive sides of their brain, the LOW balance sheet is strong, so there is no risk of bankruptcy.
but they are born with that ability or at least develop it early in life;
they need to be capable of detailed mathematical analysis yet still see 2. Under the worst-case scenario, fair value for LOW is about 20; it is
the big picture and apply judgment. a buy for new positions up to 22, though paying 24 with the intention
of holding long term is reasonable.
2. An experienced investor can recognize when a decision is rooted in
fear; usually fearful decisions are hasty and poorly thought out; Sellers 3. Turnarounds are hard to gauge with company-specific problems, but a
tries never to make a decision out of fear. company like LOW, which fits the criteria for buying the best company
in an out-of-favor industry, stands to gain market share in hard times.
3. Sellers does act on greed in the sense of taking big positions when he
recognizes that the risk-reward ratio is strongly in his favor; however, 4. Home Depot levered up to buy back shares at 37, and the stock (now
he does not hold onto high performers that become overvalued. around 28) has less flexibility than Lowe’s.
4. Great investors can handle volatility without panicking; pulling money 5. Contango Oil & Gas (MCF) is an example of an asset play—the
out at a bottom or committing money at a top are mistakes. company’s earnings are not important because it has oil and gas wells
that could be liquidated above the current market price.
Advice for the Rest
6. Since recommending the stock in June 2007, Sellers has gained even
1. Average investors should keep their expectations reasonable; if they greater respect for its CEO, whom he calls the Warren Buffett of the oil
pick their own stocks, they should look for well run companies with good, and gas business.
honest management and wait to buy until a stock hits a 52-week low.
7. MCF is akin to a venture capital fund focused on natural gas explo-
2. Aim to buy a basket of 20–25; then hold on; an example is Lowe’s ration and production; the stock sells at about 47, but its fair value is
(LOW), a good company, cheap now but not for company-specific around 60.
reasons.
8. MCF, which is moving ahead with plans to sell some or all of its parts, has
3. Following such a patient approach should lead to above average a greater chance than LOW of doing well over the next year; MCF’s recent
portfolio performance. sale of reserves brought a much higher price than expected; the company
Hedging a Big Market Drop valuation was up $10 a share, but the stock rose only about $5.

1. In his fund, Sellers hedges the portfolio by shorting overvalued What Sellers Is Not Buying
stocks or more commonly hedging the market by buying puts on the 1. The mentality is different for dealing with distressed or levered stocks;
indexes as insurance. Sellers is not buying financials right now, not because he thinks they
2. If the market goes up, the puts expire worthless, but if the market will be cheaper later, but because of severe downside risk—a bank can
goes down, they can go up an unlimited amount. go all the way down to zero.

3. An easy strategy for average investors to partially hedge a portfolio 2. Financials look cheap on the surface, and there surely are great oppor-
tunities among them; however, Sellers cannot tell which companies are
is to short ETFs, a bet that the market will go down; the play can go up
the opportunities and which are traps—MBIA appears to be a trap.
or down an unlimited amount, so it is not as efficient a hedge as using
options; investing in an inverse index amounts to the same thing. Updates on Other Past Favorites
4. Sellers is cautious about shorting and advises investors instead to 1. Fuel Tech (FTEK) was positioned to benefit from the worldwide
hold more cash, which stays flat and has power for buying screaming demand for pollution abatement in coal plants; the stock is not low risk,
bargains. and new information suggests that its process is not as competitive as
it originally appeared; consider the stock a sell.
5. Avoidance of losses is the key to long-term compounding; the goal
for each individual stock purchase is not to lose money—doing that 2. Sellers never developed full confidence in the management of Western
Union (WU), so he sold it and transferred money into Zimmer (ZMH),
across an entire portfolio ensures success.
a medical device company out of favor at the time.
6. By taking out the huge losers, investors tend to outperform the market,
which is a mix of big losers and big winners. The Danger of Selling Too Soon
1. McDonald’s (MCD) went up a lot, and Sellers took profits; he thinks
Sellers’ Approach he sold too soon—a weakness he admits he is trying to correct.
1. In his fund, Sellers truncates even more to eliminate the big winners, 2. His discipline is to sell all or most of a position when a stock reaches
too; he focuses on the safer stocks with a skewed risk-reward. fair value, but being too conservative in calculating fair value is a com-
2. Sellers takes positions as large as 10%–20%, so he needs to know the mon problem for value investors.
companies and their managements, the tax laws, political environment, 3. Sellers is oriented toward figuring how much he can lose on a stock,
even the culture; his circle of confidence is strictly North American but he recognizes the need to do more on calculating the upside.
stocks, primarily US.
4. Another example of a stock sold too soon was MasterCard (MA);
3. Investors should choose managers with a variety of circles of confi- Sellers doubled his money but could have doubled it again; fair value
dence; forecasts for stronger growth in foreign markets and a decline for MA now is around 180.


DR. MARK SKOUSEN never earn any money, so their prices collapse.

Forecasts & Strategies 2. Separating poorly managed companies that declare dividends from
the good companies is a matter of looking for high-quality companies
One Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
with strong earnings; on the other hand, paying dividends is strong
Washington, D.C. 20001 motivation for weak companies to turn their situation around.
Tel: 202-216-0600
Email: editor@markskousen.com 3. Double taxation is a problem, but it is minimized with the 15% tax
rate; Skousen is optimistic that the 15% rate will be maintained by
Web: www.markskousen.com Democrats or Republicans.
www.worldlyphilosophers.com
4. Warren Buffett and investors in Berkshire Hathaway get dividends
indirectly from investments such as Coca Cola, which has been paying
The Number One Lesson a rising dividend for a long time.
1. Wall Street is not Main Street—the business of investing is not the same
as investing in a business; Skousen’s new bestseller, Investing in One 5. Although dividends are subject to being cut or discontinued, tradition-
Lesson (IIOL), explores why there is a disconnect between the two. ally only about 5% of dividend-paying companies do so—the percentage
has been higher for the mortgage REITs lately; Skousen doubts that
2. The day Skousen started writing the book, Yahoo! announced an 83% Citibank, Bank of America and others will cut dividends, but the risk
increase in quarterly earnings, and the stock dropped 13%; the market is there—no investment is perfect.
assumed that the company could not maintain that pace; Yahoo! (a very
good company) has come close to doing so with 50%–60% earnings, 6. The efficient market theory is a legitimate concern—dividend-paying
yet the stock continues to flounder. stocks have been undervalued, but if they become hot, they would lose
that advantage; the market is not to that point yet.
3. There is much more volatility in the market compared to fundamental,
underlying factors; Skousen charts real GDP growth versus the S&P The Power of Dividends vs. Growth
500 from 1990 to 2007 (see p. 22, IIOL). 1. Investors tend to favor growth-oriented stocks over dividend-oriented
4. Both GDP and the S&P 500 start and end at the same level, but the stocks—Siegel calls this preference “the growth trap;” e.g., although
stock market dramatically spikes up and plunges down before recover- IBM outperformed Standard Oil and Exxon over 50 years by economic
ing to GDP level. and financial measures, Big Oil outperformed when reinvestment of its
high dividends are taken into account.
4. The three basic reasons for the disconnect are: (1) the company is
subject to the daily auction of its stock, (2) only a small number of buy- 2. Because investors under-appreciate good, high-dividend paying
ers and sellers determine the stock price (their marginal analysis reflects stocks, stodgy companies like railroads, oil companies and banks can
investment bias); (3) stock prices are always forward looking. be bought so cheaply that with reinvestment of dividends, investors
come out ahead of investing in strong growth companies.
The Investment Solution
The Swenson Strategy
1. IIOL also presents an investment strategy for minimizing the impact
of the disconnect and avoiding deep losses; Skousen’s approach is based 1. In managing the Yale endowment fund, the top-performer of all the
on the work of Jeremy Siegel at the Wharton School as documented in college endowment funds, David Swenson applies a strategy of non-
his book, Stocks for the Long Run. correlation investing; he looks for stocks, countries and sectors going
contrary to the general market.
2. According to Siegel, what determines the best stock values over time
is not earnings or prospects but dividends; Skousen also finds support 2. Swenson’s formula is heavily laden with dividend-paying stocks, but
for a dividend investment approach from other reputable sources. he has also had high positions in natural resources, real estate and hedge
funds, so his program is not easy for investors to imitate; Swenson has
3. A sophisticated refinement of the strategy involves making selections never had a down year, even in 2000–2003.
among seven categories of non-correlated dividend-paying stocks.
3. Investors can benefit from his concept of investing in a wide variety
4. During the last major bear market (2000–2003), investment exclu- of dividend-paying stocks, and Skousen follows it in establishing seven
sively in an index of dividend-paying stocks broke even; investment categories of dividend paying stocks.
in non-dividend-paying stocks (e.g., the Nasdaq), lost 50%–60%; IIOL
also includes the Siegel graph making this powerful point. High Dividend Picks
Responses to Negative Arguments 1. In the area of high-dividend-paying US stocks, funds and ETFs,
Skousen favors good quality financial stocks such as Bank of America
1. Skousen concedes that the dividend strategy misses the early win-
(BAC; yielding 7%).
ners in a bull market, but early winners that hold their value tend to be
a small percent of the total universe of stocks; e.g., 80% of tech stocks 2. Despite the housing fiasco, BAC is expanding aggressively; it is a

Investor’s HOTLINE, a service of Bradley Enterprises, LLC. F. Joseph Bradley, Publisher; Joanne S. Paull, Managing Editor. Membership: 1 year (24 interviews + special
briefings on cassettes or CDs with printed summaries + unlimited access to the IH web site)—$397. Address: 10616 Beaver Dam Road, N2, Hunt Valley, MD 21030. Tel:
410-771-0064. Fax: 410-584-1043. Email to: member@investorshotline.com. Web: www.investorshotline.com. Our membership grows through referrals from current
members. If you forward names/addresses of friends and colleagues who would appreciate the benefits of joining, we will send them a sample issue and member-
ship. © Bradley Enterprises, LLC, January 2008.
Investor’s HOTLINE is an objective source of financial, economic and investment information. Guests and topics are selected on the basis of potential interest and value to
members. Occasionally, IH receives a marketing advantage or financial benefit from products/services presented. Contrasting viewpoints are intentionally presented. Due
to shifting market conditions, recommendations are subject to change without notice. The publisher, employees and associates of IH may hold positions in investments
discussed and reserve the right to buy and sell without notice.


core holding of Warren Buffett and is held also by contrarian Richard GROW is a buy again around 15.
Dreman.
2. The US Global Resources Fund (PSPFX) is up 20% since July and
3. WisdomTree’s group of ETFs, run by Jeremy Siegel and Michael Stein- is still a recommendation in Forecasts & Strategies.
hardt, are picks for high-dividend-paying stocks and funds; WisdomTree’s
International Top 100 Dividend Fund (DOO) has continued to do very Pluses for US Investing vs. China & India
will since its recommendation by Skousen in July 2007. 1. Skousen has long been an advocate of foreign investing, but he points
out that everything goes in cycles, and the growth in foreign markets
Rising Dividends and Dividend Originators has been a story for years; foreign growth may be built into the current
1. Ned Davis Research shows that since 1972, companies that fall into price structure—all stock prices are forward looking.
a combination of rising dividends and dividend originators have done
best in terms of dividends vs. non-dividends. 2. The fact that growth in US productivity was recently announced to
be 6% year over year is a plus for investing in the US.
2. A favorite in that combined sector is China Medical (CMED), a for-
eign stock that just began paying dividends in 2007; its dividend has 3. Another positive factor is that the Pension Reform Act of 2006 strongly
already risen from $30 to $42; its earnings and revenues are growing encourages US workers to invest in their 401(k) plans—this behavior
rapidly—the company is a biotech actually making money. should dramatically increase the savings rate and investing.

3. Already up 85% since July 2007, CMED has much greater poten- 4. The USD is not likely to remain at all-time lows; Skousen expects
tial—it could be a $100 stock in 2–3 years [more than a double]; the a rally in the dollar.
stock is likely to be volatile and to drop with a decline of the Chinese 5. Persisting with foreign investment can be likened to being in the
stock market. growth trap; though China still looks good long term, it seems to be
4. A mutual fund pick for the rising dividend category is Morningstar’s in a bubble blowoff at present—keep some money invested in foreign
Dividend Leaders Index Fund (FDL), Skousen’s favorite ETF; FDL markets, but use protective stop orders.
looks for above average growth potential and pays a reasonably high 6. Money growth in emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil
dividend around 3.6%. and Russia has been high; in Austrian economics, such growth is not
sustainable—asset bubbles eventually collapse; be alert to that and the
Business and Industry Dividend Stocks fact that the US economy might surprise people.
1. For the fourth category of high-yielding Dow stocks, Skousen picks
some of the dogs of the Dow such as AT&T (ATT), General Mortors A Word to the Wise
(GM) and Pfizer (PFE). Investors should keep themselves educated about what is going on in
2. In category five, business development companies, Skousen finds the world in order to be wise overseers of their managed money; they
opportunity in companies that have come down 20% because they are need to think for themselves, not just automatically follow someone
related to the financial markets. else’s advice.
Members may subscribe to Mark Skousen’s free e-letter at www.worldly
3. Prime choices are American Capital Strategies Fund (ACAS; yielding
philosophers.com. Complete contact information for his Forecasts & Strategies
10.8%), a good play on venture capital firms, and Gladstone Capital newsletter appears in your printed synopsis. His new book is available at major
(GLAD), the most conservative of the business development companies bookstores and online.
but still yielding 9%.
4. In the sixth category, real estate investment trusts, Skousen recom-
mends equity REITS such as General Growth Properties (GGP; yielding Sneak Preview of
3%–4%), which is focused on shopping malls; among mortgage REITs, The 2008 Line-up
Countrywide (CFC) might be a good contrarian play with money one
can afford to lose. • First-time IH guest Burt Malkiel wrote a previous million-copy
bestseller, A Random Walk Down Wall Street. His new book is Wall
Energy and Commodity Picks Street to the Great Wall: How Investors Can Profit from China’s
1. Plays for the seventh category, energy and commodities, include the Booming Economy.
Canadian oil and gas trusts such as Penn West (PWE; yielding 15%); • IH member Lon Morton and guest Angela Raitzin will introduce a
these are off 15%–20%; be warned that part of their high yield is actu- conservative, innovative product that allows structuring an investment
ally return of capital; Arab interest in buying Canadian oil and gas trusts for a particular outlook and risk tolerance.
may generate a pop in price.
• Another appearance will be made by natural resources specialist
2. Three high-income commodity plays are FreeportMcMoran (FCX), Frank Holmes.
Aluminum Corporation of China (ACH) and Southern Copper (PCU;
yielding 8%). • The ever-optimistic Paul Merriman will be counterbalanced
by a new guest from Hong Kong, well-known financial seer Marc
3. PCU (up 30%) and ACH (100%) were Skousen picks in July; volatility Faber.
triggered a stop for ACH, but it is a buy again around 56; ACH is also
a favorite of Jim Rogers as a China play. • Plus there will be a few other surprises and Joe Bradley’s
empowering synthesis of 32 years’ of wisdom gleaned from his
US Global Investors interviews as an investor’s advocate.
1. US Global Investors (GROW), another Skousen pick in July 2007, Stay tuned to Investor’s HOTLINE for
illustrates why using stop orders is particularly important with volatile some of the best moments ever.
stocks; GROW is down 45% since then, but Skousen was stopped out;

Next issues release date: Friday, January 18, 2008